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Bicycle injury study proves need for bike lane separation

According to a recent broadly based and carefully methodological study, streetcar tracks are not good for cyclists.

Any urban cyclist would have been able to tell you that. They get especially bad in snowy weather, when the sides of streets, the bits usually hived off for cyclists, are piled high with snow moved out of the way of motorists. That’s when people on bikes are pushed closer to the grooves that are perfectly sized for bike tires to slip into them, flipping cyclists off and, possibly, into traffic. When you get to an intersection like Dundas and Bathurst where two streetcar lines cross, trying to keep at right angles to the tracks, the safest way for a cyclist to approach them, can start to look like quadrinomial equation.

But now, there is more than anecdotal evidence. The study, conducted in Toronto and Vancouver, asked 690 cyclists in downtown emergency rooms where they had their accidents and studied the conditions of those sites, comparing them to other randomly selected locations along that same cyclist’s route in what is called a case crossover-designed study meant to factor out variables.

"The relative risk is about 3.18 at intersections," says Anne Harris, assistant professor at Ryerson and the lead author of the paper that deals with these aspects of the study. "That’s approximately three times the risk of injury when streetcar tracks are present. It’s four times when not at intersections."

She called it "one of our stronger risk relationships," the strongest of which was the absence of physically separate bike lanes, which is 10 times riskier than the painted lines we have in Toronto, which the study found offer no significant protection.

The report was published in Injury Prevention and funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Anne Harris

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

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